JAMES MC DOWELL was born at "Cherry Grove" in Rockbridge County, Virginia. He attended Yale and graduated from Princeton. He served in the Virginia House of Delegates from December, 1830 until March, 1835 and again from January to April, 1838. Chosen governor by the state legislature, McDowell secured the passage of legislation establishing a free school system in counties where two-thirds of voters favored such a system. After leaving office, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives to fill a vacancy and was reelected twice in his own right.
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